Elite Runners' Strategies to Maintain Motivation for Running

How do you motivate yourself during intense and monotonous weeks of training?

Staying motivated during training is a challenge for beginners and the most experienced runners alike. For beginners, plowing through those early, tough runs when you feel slower than everyone around you is a tough proposition. However, even experienced, elite runners have difficulty with staying motivated at times. When the schedule calls for an eighth week at 100 plus miles in single-degree temperatures, or you're toiling for months without budging your personal bests, getting excited about training is like trying to get pumped up for another Monday at the office.

So, how do elite runners, ultra runners and those who train extraordinarily hard, power through those hours and days of training and racing when they're not particularly motivated? In this article, we'll look at some of the mental tricks and strategies used by runners who spend hours on the roads and trails each day so you can stay motivated through the most difficult and monotonous weeks of your training.

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Create Systems So You Don't Have to Think About Running

When you're running 13 to 14 times per week for months on end, often for hours at a time, running can quickly consume your entire thought process. While this might be sustainable for a week or two, even the most dedicated runner will lose motivation when running becomes a constant chore. Therefore, one of the most effective secrets employed by elite runners is to implement systems so they don't need to think about training. Through efficiency, they can eliminate most of the thinking involved with training; this gets them out the door when they are less than inspired.

Creating an effective system for your lifestyle and specific motivational challenges can seem daunting. However, here is a step-by-step process that can help you create a foolproof system to power through those days you just don't want to run.

1. The first step is to identify the specific areas and times that most often lead to your sapped motivation. Think back to the last time you skipped a run, and try and recall your "reasons" for missing the run or where you got hung up. For example, did you pull the covers up when the alarm went off because it was too cold or too early? Did you feel hungry and in need of a snack first? Get as detailed as possible; try to cover any possible reason that keeps you from putting on your shoes.

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2. Next, think about creative ways you can eliminate the above issues, distractions or weak moments. If you struggle with getting out of bed, consider putting your alarm in the next room next to your running clothes so you have to get up to turn it off. Too cold to run? Buy a cheap ceramic heater and get the room you get dressed in nice and toasty so you'll forget it's cold outside. Organize or lay out your clothes so you don't have to think about what to wear in any given temperature.

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